Thursday, January 5, 2012

45 Seconds

As 45-second spans of college basketball go, it's really, really hard to beat the final buzzers of a Georgetown win in the Big East after being behind by 17 and a Temple win over Duke.

Well, really any win over Duke is nice. When it's Coach Dunphy, it's even better.

And these 45 seconds ended just in time for a pretty clever episode of "Criminal Minds," which was much more on a human level than a crazed sub-human serial killer level.

If you were watching something else last night, you missed a pretty good pair of basketball games, as Georgetown hosted Marquette on ESPNU and Temple hosted Duke on ESPN2.

Over on ESPN, something called "the Discover Orange Bowl" was going on. TigerBlog remembers when it was the Fed Ex Orange Bowl and before that the Orange Bowl, a game played on Jan. 1 each year matching a team from the Big 8 against any other team and usually impacting who was voted national champion in the AP or UPI poll.

This time around, TB didn't watch any of the Discover Orange Bowl and was fairly shocked this morning when he checked the final score.

Meanwhile, back the basketball games, Georgetown was down big against Marquette, while Temple was always at least two possessions ahead of Duke, as the games made their way through the second half.

Not really wanting to watch Georgetown lose (the Hoyas were down by 17 with 13:10 to go), TB was mostly focused on the Temple-Duke game, with an eye towards the crawl or the updates from Georgetown.

Eventually the Hoyas were within eight - and then the next score TB saw was 68-68. At that point, he flipped on the game in time to see Henry Sims give the Hoyas the lead at 70-68 and then Hollis Thompson hit the game-winning three-pointer after the Golden Eagles had tied it.

Did Sims commit a charge on the game-winner just after he got the ball to Thompson? Close, but TB says no. Of course, were he rooting for Marquette, his take would have been different.

By the time TB got back to the other game, the Temple fans were celebrating the win over the Blue Devils.

Even though the team was ranked No. 3, there is something more special about beating Duke than any other team in college basketball (maybe any sport) for the team that does so. Maybe it's because of the coach or the fact that year-in, year-out the team routinely wins around 90% of its games or the fact that the team is more love-hate than any other.

For TB, the best part of the games were the winning coaches.

John Thompson was a great coach from Day 1 at Princeton, when he took over a team that was in turmoil - lost head coach Bill Carmody, assistant coach Joe Scott, stars Chris Young and Spencer Gloger - and calmly won the 2001 Ivy title, the first of three he'd win at Princeton in four years.

Since he's gotten to Georgetown, he's been a regular in the NCAA tournament, with one Final Four on his resume as well. He has routinely churned out NBA-ready players.

And think he can't coach? How about this year's team, picked to finish 10th in the Big East, which is currently ranked ninth in the country, with a 13-1 record, an 11-game winning streak and only three upperclassmen on the roster.

Beyond all that, TigerBlog can say that in his entire time at Princeton, there have been few people - especially in such a high profile position - who have been as universally liked here as Thompson was.

As for Dunphy, he wasn't as universally liked at Princeton, mostly because his reputation was made at Penn. Still, he was respected here, maybe more so than any other opposing coach who has ever competed against Princeton over such a long period of time.

And why not?

He was always gracious when his teams won. Classy when they lost. Friendly to everyone. Easy to approach. Funny. More than anything else, respectful.

In fact, it was easy to root for him as coach of the Quakers, even while rooting against his team. Now that he's at Temple - a team he's turned into a regular NCAA qualifier as well - it's even easier.

Maybe the best part about Thompson and Dunphy is that they're not phonies. And TB's sense is that does not put them in the majority among Division I men's basketball coaches.

Both have come a long way since they went head-to-head from 2001-04 as the head coaches at Princeton and Penn.

Both are great college basketball coaches.

Both are all-time TB favorites.

That's part of why TB enjoyed those 45 seconds last night so much.

And then it was off to "Criminal Minds," where Morgan helps a guy get out of prison, only to see him commit a murder on his first day out. Only it wasn't exactly how it looked.

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